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Red Bank Veterinary Hospital - Tinton Falls

Hemodialysis machine


Extracorporeal therapy is a procedure that removes blood from the body, circulates it through a filter system and then returns that blood back to the body. In veterinary medicine this encompasses Hemodialysis (HD), Hemoperfusion (HP) and Therapeutic Plasma Exchange (TPE). This revolutionary treatment is available and is performed by a board certified veterinary criticalist.

What is Hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is an extracorporeal therapy that removes solute and fluid waste produced during normal metabolism from the blood. A dialysis machine uses a pump to pass blood through a circuit containing a semi-permeable membrane in order to remove solute and water from the blood. The blood that has been purified is then returned to the pet. It is very important to understand that although HD helps to restore normal metabolic balance allowing the pet to feel better it is not “fixing” the kidneys.

What Diseases Can Be Treated With Hemodialysis?

Most commonly in veterinary medicine HD is used to treat acute renal injury (AKI), occasionally end-stage renal patients may be treated as well. No matter the cause of the acute injury HD may be beneficial, prognosis will depend on each individual pet and is part of the discussion at the time of an initial consultation. In some cases, like ureteral obstruction, HD can be used to stabilize the pet prior to other necessary procedures. Lastly, HD can also be used in certain intoxications to prevent life-threatening organ dysfunction from developing or in some cases quicken the recovery time if signs have already developed. In these cases, the timing of treatment is of great importance, and early treatment is key.

What is Hemoperfusion?

Hemoperfusion is basically HD with the addition of a charcoal adsorbent. Certain toxins that cannot be removed with traditional HD alone can be bound by the charcoal and removed from circulating blood. The use of HP can prevent damage or treat clinical signs associated with an intoxication in cases when HD alone would be ineffective.

What is Therapeutic Plasma Exchange?

Therapeutic Plasma Exchange uses a different type of semi-permeable membrane to remove the pet’s own plasma proteins from the blood. The pet’s own red and white blood cells are returned while donor plasma is used to replace what was removed. Antibodies are a large protein removed in this way. When a pet is suffering from an immune mediated disease removal of these antibodies can help gain control over the disease much quicker than with medication alone. This can prevent further decline and the need for more intensive care, lead to the pet feeling better quicker, as well as lessen the time in hospital. TPE can also be used to remove highly plasma bound substances in certain intoxications with the same goal of preventing or treating clinical signs.